The Begum's Daughter


THE clouds which had so long shadowed the lives and fortunes of the commander’s family at last showed signs of breaking. Like nature’s clearings the change came gradually. A dim white disk of promise, glimmering at first vaguely through the vapor, brightened presently into a noontide blaze of fulfillment.

If, as has been argued, there is needed a sombre background of trial to bring out in their true values the common blessings of peace of mind and daily bread, Vrouw Leisler and her little flock by this time should have been brought to a due appreciation of these unprized gifts of Providence.

The atonement, so long in coming, seemed now as complete as it lay in the power of man to make. The taint had been taken from their blood ; their dead had been reinterred with Christian burial and public honor ; the order had gone forth for the restoration of their estates ; nay, even his Excellency, in the late election, had found their name one still potent enough to conjure with.

Furthermore, to signalize this heyday of returning prosperity and happiness, Mary announced that she had consented to become the wife of Abram Gouveneur. The young widow, in the full bloom of health and ripened beauty, had, this time of her own free will, yielded her hand to the importunity of the keen-eyed young Huguenot, who was as unlike in character as he was in person to her former spouse.

As if to emphasize in every way the contrast to her earlier nuptials, the sun rose cloudless on her wedding-day, the glory of June shone in garden and orchard, friends gathered from far and near about the now prosperous family, and even their beloved old dominie came tottering in on the arm of Cobus to perform the marriage service.

Although still hale, time and suffering had left their script on good Dame Leisler’s face and sapped the vigor of her frame. She stood resignedly aside, and left the brunt of the preparation to Hester, who, with her grave air of responsibility, might have been taken for the bride’s elder sister. Mary, indeed, was almost foolish in her gayety, as long-frozen sources of sentiment, thawed by this newfound joy, bubbled up in her heart and flooded to her lips and eyes for expression.

When the feast was over and the guests were gone, the whole family escorted the bride to her new home, a cozy little house which the energetic groom had fitted to receive her.

It was on the way back that, with the natural rebound of feelings long overstrained in one direction, Vrouw Leisler gave vent to certain characteristic reflections.

“ Oh, if Jacob — if your father could but have been here to-day to see how we lift up our heads,—to see Mary, too ! She was ever his favorite. What need for wonder at it ! She was an obedient child. She did ever what she was bid. See ye now the fruit of that ! See, Hester, how she is rewarded ! Ah, if he could but see her ! But ei ! ei ! he cares nothing for all that now. He wears a crown of glory in paradise if ever yet a mortal did ! Ay, he is looking down on us, — I cannot believe but he is. He knows all has been done. Think of that, now ! I pray he may forgive us all we do amiss. If he but knew how we have striven day and night to carry out his will ! But we are not as he was. He should think of that. His sight was made clear, he went not astray, he knew the right and what was best for us. I pray we may guide ourselves to please him. It must meet his liking, this, one would think. Abram has been from a child under his eye, like a son, as it might be, since the day when he himself befriended the mother—ye were too young, Hester, to remember the gibberish she spoke — in her sorrow and trouble so long ago.”

The good vrouw’s maundering came to a natural end : they had reached home. With one accord all stopped at the foot of the steps, realizing perhaps for the first time that, despite its attendant smiles and congratulations, despite the songs of poets and the jests of all mankind, a wedding is as truly the first act of a tragedy as a funeral is the latest. The ring, the veil, the bridal wreath, have filled the opening epithalamium with sounding rhymes ; let it fitly end with figures of a vacant chair, a vanished form, a silenced voice, the listening for a step that comes no more, of a familiar service rendered not again.

In the momentary silence, as Vrouw Leisler paused with her foot upon the bottom step, it might be to make the foregoing reflection, it might be to take breath, a tall figure rose from the bench on the stoop above and greeted them. It was Barent Rhynders awaiting their return. His appearance following so closely upon certain words just spoken by her mother may have seemed significant to Hester. Although her voice was wanting in the chorus of cordial greetings with which the visitor was welcomed, he must have gathered from her look that his presence was a pleasure and a relief; else surely would he not have stayed on until one by one the tired family withdrew and left them alone.

They sat on the porch in the soft summer air and watched the moon rise over Remsen’s Hoodgts, while the discordant clamor of the day died away to a drowsy murmur, as the bustling little town slowly settled itself to repose.

At last Barent rose to go. He had already stayed beyond his hour, and it was late according to the simple notions of the time. Directly Hester, who had been sitting all the evening in silence, began to bristle with things to say. Unconsciously she followed the lingering visitor down the steps and called him back for a forgotten word. Without plan or suggestion they presently found themselves sauntering up and down the deserted street. Despite Hester’s protest, Barent would needs go back to the stoop for her cloak. Thereupon they wandered on to the dock.

Here they paused to look off upon the water, to taste the cool breeze blowing up through the Hoofden and note the moon’s white track upon the river just where it turns with broad sweep to join its sister flood.

As they stood thus, it chanced that the ferryman came rowing slowly up to the landing from his last passage to Breuckelen.

“ What say you? ” whispered Barent. “ Shall we take a turn upon the water ? Here is Jan would catch at a chance guilder, and the river is smooth as a goose-pond.”

Hester looked wistfully at the water, hesitated a moment, then followed her companion down to the landing.

As they stepped into the clumsy little craft the night-watch came stalking to the spot to demand their errand, but upon the representation of the ferryman winked at the irregularity and forbore to interfere.

With long, steady stroke the skillful Jan propelled them out into the noble river, not, as now, a turbid sewer hemmed in by masses of brick and mortar, noisy with screaming whistles, gay with flaring lights, crowded with a forest of foreign masts, but broad and peaceful and undefiled, inclosed by wooded banks abounding in mysterious shadows, where nothing broke the solemn hush save the rippling of the water on the rocky shore, the far-off chorus of the tree-toads, or the plaintive persistence of the whippoor-will, sounds which seemed born of the night to accentuate the silence.

“ ‘T is wondrous beautiful! ” said the junker in a half-whisper, as if afraid to break the spell by a discordant note.

“ Yes,” was the murmured answer.

“ Mary has had a rare day.”

“Ye-es,” as before.

“ ’T is a comfort to think of her coming to such happiness after all her pain.”

“ ’T is no more than her desert.”

“ Nor so much ; there ’s nothing good enough for Mary, when it comes to that. Yet there ‘s not a finer junker in the province than Abram.”

“ ‘T is an old matter between them.”

“ So ? ”

“ They had a thought of each other when children.”

In Milborne’s time ? ”

“ Yes, and long before, when Abram spoke in his outlandish French chatter we could never understand.”

“ And she broke off with him to take Milborne ? ”

“ ‘T was a sore trial to her, but — ’t was at his bidding.”

“ Your father ? ”

“ Yes. ’T was not with a man’s light he walked ; he had surer guidance. ‘T is now made clear how all he did and said was for the right. Well for Mary that she heeded him ! ”

Barent, perhaps conscientiously refraining from assent until he had arrived at conviction, perhaps with reservations which it would have been hard to define, made no answer. To Hester, luckily, his speech or silence upon the matter appeared to make no difference. She had merely paused for breath.

“ I was ever rebellious and stubborn, and heeded not in my pride his blessed words. I was hardened in disobedience, and more times than one sorely angered him.”

“Think no more on it! You cannot mend what is past. You must be excused, not knowing you were wrong.”

“ That did I ; I was willful in my wrong-doing, and now henceforth must I abide the consequence.”

“ Take cheer ! ’T is Mary’s turn today ; to-morrow’t will be yours! ”

“Mine has passed and gone; ’t will come not again.”

“ You are downcast now over Mary’s leave-taking, — that is all. Next week ‘t will look another way.”

“ It cannot; there is no chance of it.”

“ In a few months Mynheer will be coming back from Holland.”

“ If it be Mynheer Van Cortlandt you have in mind, ‘t is all one to me whether he comes or stays.”

Staggered by this unexpected speech, the junker made no answer. He was not of the nimble wits who can cover their dismay by tossing in a conversational stop-gap.

As before, his companion seemed unconscious of his silence and of the fact that he was staring at her with might and main.

“ I was accursed,” she went on bitterly, “to hold converse with a man who told me to my face that awful murder might be justified. ’T is right I should suffer for my sin,” she continued, with added vehemence. “ I shudder to think he was of the party that did it, their kith and kin. I feel that I have clasped the hand of a murderer. ‘T is the penalty I must pay for my wrong-doing; ‘t is the yoke I must bear, and a grievous heavy yoke it is ! Forgive me that I cry out under it! I am not yet grown callous to the smart.”

Again Barent was mute. He may well have been dumfounded at the revelation he had heard. A silence fell between them ; it was prolonged till clearly neither cared to break it. As if relieved by her outburst of feeling, Hester yielded to the soothing influences of time and place, and found a needed solace in the brooding quiet.

Thus they glided on. Far out of sight of the town or of any sign of man’s presence, they were alone in the wilderness. Worn out by the fatigue and excitement of the day, lulled by the rhythm of the dipping oars, Hester’s head began to droop.

The vigilant junker arranged a roll of sailcloth fora pillow; then covering her from the dew with the warm cloak, he sat at hand as they fared homeward, guarding the unconscious sleeper with watch-dog fidelity.

Not until they rounded up to the dock did she open her eyes. Then staggering to her feet, she looked about in bewilderment. Barent spoke a reassuring word.

“ ‘T is the dock, Hester, — see ! Let me go first ! — now give me your hand. Have a care where you step ! So, here we are again ! ”

“ Yes, come ; ’t is time we were going. Hark! What o’clock is that ? It must be very late. Ugh-li! how cold it grows! Let us make haste ! ”

Barent strode in silence by her side as she hurried along the winding Strand. Upon the stoop he faced about to take leave.

“ You would leave me, then ? ” she cried, in a dismayed tone.

“ That will I not, now or ever, if you but bid me stay,” he said stoutly.

“I bid you neither stay nor go,” she answered wearily. “ I bid you do what you will.”

She stood with her face in shadow, leaning against the doorpost, while he pondered for a whole minute what she had said.

“ I am a fool at guessing folks’ meaning. I made a blunder once ; I would not do the same again. You know my mind, Hester ; ’t is the same now it was then. If you would take back what you said yonder, let me know it in one plain word ! ”

She made a movement to speak, but the words died on her lips.

“ If you say not no, I shall think you mean yes.”

He waited a minute in trembling suspense lest she might speak.

“ Hester— Hester! ” he cried at last, in a voice deeply moved. “ I am a happy man.”

At the end of his transport she released herself from his embrace with a sigh.


One theme held sway over Steenie’s thoughts all the voyage long, nothing happening in the weary round of shiplife to break its hold upon him. Perforce he must sit and think, and think, and think. All nature, too, seemed in his confidence : the waves breaking upon the vessel’s prow to his enkindled fancy sang of the selfsame subject, the winds whispered of it, the stars winked knowingly down that they were in the secret. An end or a welcome interruption came to all this when the Angel Gabriel cast anchor in the Zuyder Zee, and the junker found himself in the home of his ancestors. Before he well realized the fact, however, or had breathing-time to look about upon the odd sights and varied forms of life in this new-old world, there came a letter telling of his father’s death and calling upon him to go home.

He received the news with calmness, perhaps because mere words blown thousands of miles across the sea lose something of their dramatic force, perhaps because he was getting shock - proof. Neither, as it proved, did the interruption of his travels cause him any great regret; for, setting sail on his return voyage without loss of time, he saw the land recede with a look of pure indifference.

On the long homeward way he had ample time to reflect upon the new responsibilities awaiting him. For the first time he became sensible that his mother’s more pronounced character had blinded him to his father’s unusual qualities, and that the family, one and all, had been unconsciously guided by the rare sagacity and great worldly experience of his dead parent.

This subject, having been ripely considered, gave way, like a variation in music, to the original theme. Again the scene in the graveyard arose before his cooled and sobered fancy. Like tormenting insects, certain questions with regard to it, questions necessarily unanswerable, kept buzzing in his ears : Had the change been in him or in Hester ? If she had ever really loved him, could she have cast him off thus ? Could he help his opinions ? Ought she to expect all the world to share her delusion that her father was a saint and a martyr, or accept as sane the judgment of her morbid conscience that filial duty should overshadow every other, and that her old righteous revolt against her father’s tyranny had become through mere lapse of time a heinous crime ?

But a profounder riddle than any of these was his own changed attitude with regard to the matter, was the growing remoteness of his own point of view, was the lack of any poignant regret as to its outcome. Had this change in himself come about gradually? Had it been of volcanic action ? In either case, what had caused it? He was bewildered to find himself unable to decide.

Tiring of these puzzles, others awaited him ; the sea-life showed itself prolific of them. Unbidden, there uprose before him the scene of his last meeting with Catalina, her strange behavior and unaccountable swoon. Thereupon, as he hung musing for hours over the taffrail, came remembrances of other times when she had been odd and baffling, and he recalled with a passing smile his old delight in her irascibility. Thus idly reminiscent he made a discovery. For the first time, in his self-absorption, it occurred to him that a change had taken place in the little maid’s demeanor, — the old attitude of bristling hostility was gone !

Directly this puzzle outvied all others in interest. Catalina’s conduct under this narrowed scrutiny began to assume new lights and significances. At last, with the suddenness of an electric flash it all stood before him in perfect consistency.

He jumped up and paced the deck ; it seemed a very narrow and cramped little deck now, when he longed for a boundless course over which he could stretch his long legs with some chance of relieving the white heat of heart and brain during those first few hours after his discovery.

Whereupon he began to turn his eyes towards the western horizon with growing suspense, to question the captain and sailors about their progress and the probabilities of arrival, all his patient apathy gone.

At the end of a dreary gray day the long-expected cry was heard, “ Land ho ! ” The next morning the ship entered the harbor. Greeting an outwardbound vessel just issuing from the Hoofden, they were met with the news that a fast had just been proclaimed in town on account of the death of Lord Bellomont.

This startling report speedily brought the dreamer back to real life, to thoughts of the cause of his home-coming and of the afflicted family he was so soon to meet. Moreover, these two deaths presaged, as he well knew, momentous changes in private and public, and so invested his return with a sense of strangeness and upheaval.

Notwithstanding the familiar look of everything as he sailed up the harbor, years seemed to have elapsed since he went away. His voyage already began to serve as a dividing point in his life, and all that lay beyond it belonged to a past even now of shadowy remoteness. The same sense of strangeness pursued him on land. Making his way along the well-known streets, he stared about with the dazed look of a stranger, so suddenly had everything grown shabby, dwarfed, or disappointing.

Reaching home, he was greeted by the announcement that the family had removed to their summer estate upon the Hudson. This news, coming as a culmination to the train of thoughts described, filled him with a sense of loneliness and desolation. He longed for a welcoming face or voice. In this mood he hurried around to the Staatses’.

A slave at work in the garden saw him at the door plying the knocker, and came hurrying to say that the begum and the children had gone to the farm at New Utrecht, leaving only a couple of servants behind to care for the doctor, who was kept in town by business.

Amongst the political disturbances which followed upon the death of Lord Bellomont, and filled with stormful echoes the brief administration of Lieutenant-Governor Nanfan. two only came home to the returned traveler with immediate interest, — the trial and conviction of Colonel Bayard on the charge of high treason, and the persecution of his mother by Nanfan’s officious auditing committee because of her refusal to give up the papers of her dead husband. Madam, it should he said, was as calmly defiant of their threats as she had been of Leisler’s in the time of the revolution, and, as it turned out, with the like victorious result.

What with these political distractions and the imperative demands of important private duties in connection with his father’s estate, Steenie had small leisure for ocean dreams. Though overlaid in his mind, however, it speedily appeared how little they were forgotten.

In his frequent comings and goings between the town and the new manorhouse upon the river, he had thought many times of the Van Dorns as he passed the well-known bouwerie, but the urgency of present business had always prevented his stopping, until one morning, surprised by the littered stoop and general air of desolation, he rode up to the door and found the cottage empty. Conscience-stricken at his neglect, he at once set about a search, and soon succeeded in finding the family temporarily lodged with one of the neighbors.

Although plainly astonished to see him so soon returned from his voyage, Tryntie greeted the junker with her usual air of grave respect.

“ How goes it with you, vrouw ? ”

“ All at the best, thank ye much, Mynheer ! ”

“ And Rip, — he has still the rheumatics ? ”

“ ’T is no great matter.”

“ You have then left the bouwerie ?”

“ Mm-m,” answered the little woman, dryly affirmative.

“ So ! ” exclaimed Steenie with instant apprehension, “ they took it from you ? ”

“ I came not out of it upon a wink,” was the answer, pronounced with a certain grim significance.

“ But they gave you its worth ? ”

“ I see it not yet what they give.”

“ So ! humph — umph ! Say a good word for me to Rip. I will see you soon again.”

Tryntie courtesied, and gazed after the galloping horseman with a look of much perplexity.

Steenie’s non-committal air at parting covered, as it proved, a serious intent. Before a week went by, he came with the offer of a small bouwerie belonging to his father’s estate.

Certainly his statement was explicit enough, but Tryntie stupidly stared at him as if she had not heard. He repeated his words.

“ ’T is for me —this ? ”

“ Yes; the cottage is small, but so is the rent, and you may get help to till the land.”

Turning away her head and looking fixedly in the other direction, Tryntie made one or two attempts to speak, but beyond a choking sound nothing was audible.

Steenie suddenly discovered that he was parching for a glass of buttermilk. It was a happy thought; the little vrouw darted away to get the draught, and came back in a measure composed and coherent.

Needless to say, the timely offer was accepted. Rip’s few belongings were soon removed with the help of the neighbors, and at the end of a week the family were fairly installed in their new cottage, not very far removed from the old, on the Sapokanican road.

Here, calling upon them not long afterwards to see if they were comfortably settled, Steenie found his new tenant loquacious in explaining the superior convenience of her new quarters : the tulip-bed was larger and better placed for the sun than the old ; the brook, being running water, was better for the geese than their former muddy pond; and the bees were disposed in a more sheltered nook.

“ You find everything, then, to your mind ? ” asked the pleased landlord.

“ Beyond all I ever knew, Mynheer.”

“ You are in need of nothing? ”

“ Nothing, Mynheer, best thanks.”

“ You have wherewithal to buy food for the young ones till the crops ripen ? ”

“ Never fear, Mynheer! ”

Turning to go, Steenie was almost overturned by a slave who came riding up, carrying a large hamper before him on the saddle.

“ ’T is like her ! ” exclaimed Tryntie, receiving the hamper.

“ Who is that ? ”

“ Catalina! ”

“ She has been here ? ” with sudden eagerness.

“ Ei, not this age; she bides yonder on the island.”

“ In New Utrecht ? ”

“ Mm-m; but lets never a week go by that she sends me not something like this ye see.”

“ So ! ” muttered Steenie, in whom the incident seemed to have awakened a new train of thought.

“ But ’t is not my old Catalina, that was here and away over the fields and filled the house with song! ”

“ No ? ”

“ Not she ; her face is as long as the dominie’s, with no cause one can see, and never a smile for her best friend, they say.”

“In New Utrecht? Humph! Goodday to you, vrouw. I must not stay longer lest I he late getting home. Let me know if anything goes amiss.”

After his professed eagerness to get home, Tryntie naturally wondered to see her landlord, instead of continuing his homeward way, turn about and ride smartly back towards the town.

Tryntie’s astonishment, however, was as nothing to that of cousin Lysbeth, on seeing her kinsman come galloping up to her door that same evening, as she sat after supper upon the stoop.

The visitor was not the less welcome for being unexpected ; and having feasted him with cold meats from the pantry, the dame drew up her chair, as he settled himself with his pipe upon the stoop, in keen anticipation of a quiet gossip.

Family news, an account of his recent voyage, the state of the province, these topics of their desultory talk, although of absorbing interest to cousin Lysbeth, availed not to keep Steenie from dropping shamelessly to sleep in the midst of her eager comments and questions. Realizing then the cruelty of prolonging the interview, she straightway packed her drowsy cousin off to bed.

Having early business in the fields, the bustling huysvrouw was up and gone, next morning, long before her laz.y kinsman came sauntering down to his breakfast.

Once up, however, his indolence gave place to a restless activity. He did small justice to the dainty breakfast set forth for him, hut, dispatching the meal quite unconscious of its excellence, called for his horse and rode briskly away.

At a turn in the road, he came by chance upon the begum riding in her palanquin. With practiced skill, the lady blinked out of sight her look of surprised recognition, and greeted him with matter-of-course cordiality.

“ ’T is long since we saw you, Mynheer.”

“ I have been out of the province, and am but just come back,” he explained, returning the speaker’s salute.

“ Yes — pardon— it needs not to explain — you have my deep sympathy — pardon again — you visit here Vrouw Wickoff?”

“ For the moment.”

“ I hope for the honor of seeing you.”

“ I was — er — am now on the point ” — The junker paused, with a look of embarrassment. “ You are most kind.”

“ I go to-day up to town; my husband sends word a box is come from India. With good fortune I am home again tonight, and if you find yourself here tomorrow ” —

“ I thank you much.”

Thereupon with renewed compliments the lady went on her way to Breuckelen ferry, while Steenie took a speedier advantage of her invitation than she had dreamed of.

The servant, having bestowed him in the parlor, went in search of Catalina. Sunk in a luxurious Indian chair in the darkened room, the eyes of the waiting visitor idly followed the wake of an intruding beam of light out through the open hall door to an alluring little perspective of green fields and waving treetops. During the long absence of the servant, his thoughts, flocking along the lighted way into the outer air, visited in swift succession divers scenes rendered memorable to him in the neighborhood.

Roused from his reverie by the sound of approaching voices, he was presently aware of figures upon the stoop darkening his field of vision. Checking an impulse to rise and go forward, he consciously listened. A younger sister was urging upon Catalina some project to which she was disinclined.

“You have no excuse; you must go. All the junkers in Seawanacky, they say, will be there; and as for Vlacktebos and New Utrecht, there ’ll not be a soul left at home. You should have heard the talk at church last Lord’s Day.

The Lefferts, Van de Bildts, Remsens, Martenses, Van Voorhuys, Cortelyous, Couwenlioovens, Lotts, Stryckers, and liegemans will all be there.”

“ So ? ”

“ There ‘ll be every sport ever was heard of, ’t is said, — reels, hipseysaw, shuffle-shuffle, cards, ninepins, plucking the goose, balls, and I know not what.”

You may go and bring me back a history of it all.”

“ Not I. You shall see it for yourself.”

“ I care not to go.”

“ And why, tell me ? ”

“ I care not for it.”

“ ’T was only last year you could not get enough of it. Poll! You must go, I say.”

“ Have done! I will not! ”

“ Suit yourself, then. I think too much of my breath to waste any more of it upon one so stubborn. But yonder is Johanna waiting for me to go gather cresses. Good-by. You’ll be sorry when ’tis too late.”

A deep sigh from the solitary figure upon the stoop presently aroused Steenie to a realizing sense of the fact that he had been playing the eavesdropper. Rising quickly, he walked to the outer door, but was stayed upon the threshold by the unexpected dismay his sudden appearance produced.

Clutching the bench upon which she sat with convulsive grasp, Catalina rose slowly and stared at him without speaking.. Her look and attitude were so expressive of a deep inward shock that the junker himself was at a loss what to say.

“ I have affrighted you. Had you not heard of my return? ”

Catalina shook her head.

“ ‘T is some weeks now — when my father — surely you heard of our great loss ? ”

She muttered an assent under her breath.

“ My mother sent for me. I had scarcely landed. I have been much pressed since getting back. There have been troublous times yonder in town. My mother has been plagued by these busybodies. And Bayard, — you have heard how they try to hunt him to death ? ”

With resumed self-control Catalina sat quietly down upon the bench, and motioned him to a seat.

He remained standing, as if with some passing scruple about accepting the invitation.

“ Tryntie — the Van Dorns — I stopped yesterday to see them in their new home.”

The listener’s face kindled with a faint interest.

“ Whiles we talked came a messenger loaded with your bounty ” —

The listener suddenly found her tongue.

“And Rip,— he is not worse for the moving ? ”

“ None at all, as it seems. We had talk of you, the little vrouw and I. You should hear her upon that theme.”

“ You are come hither to — to visit Vrouw Wickoff ? ”

“ No.”


The little monosyllable quivered upon her lip, and came fluttering forth with scarce breath enough to make known its birth.

“ No, Catalina, I am come to see you,” he said bluntly, sitting down as he spoke on the bench beside her, and looking close into her face with anxious eyes.

She made a vague movement as if to escape, but it was evident the effort was beyond her powers. She seemed well-nigh transfigured by an access of emotion; her eyes were filled with changing lights, her limbs were rigid, her organs of speech were paralyzed.

“ And why should I not ? ” He paused as if for some sign of assent. “ Are we not old friends ? ”

Still there was no answer; only in the startled eyes gleamed the same impotent purpose of flight.

“ On the ship coming home I thought over my whole life as never before. I weighed my friends according to their worth. I examined well my heart as to which of them I prized and which I yearned to come back to.”

She put out her hand with a gesture of protest.

“ ’T was then my eyes were opened. Then I saw my fatal mistake. Oh, Catalina, there came before me something, as it might be the finger of God, pointing to the precious flower blooming these many years in my pathway, which yet I had never reached to gather. From that moment all has been clear as the light; from that moment I have thought day and night of you, — of you, Catalina, as the one most dear to me in life.”

“ Stop ! ” she cried, a note of terror quivering in her breathless voice.

“ All these years, I say, this spark has been smouldering in my heart, and I going blindfold on with no sense of it. I thought of your old childish spite as still living. I thought of it as a thing not to be shaken off, until, in the midst of the ocean yonder, something whispered me one day it was gone.” He paused in vain for an assuring look. " Tell me, Catalina, is it so ? ”

He took her hand, but almost started at its icy touch.

“ Speak, pray you, Catalina ! Is it cured, that old spite ? Pity my blindness that I did not know my own heart!

‘T was duty blinded me, — duty, do you see? I thought myself bound by those old childish bonds. Catalina, do you hear me?” Stooping lower, he whispered tenderly in her ear, “ Speak, little one. I am come hither to-day to tell you this, — to tell you that all my hope of happiness is now in you. Catalina, my treasure, I love you with all my heart! ”

Receiving no word or look of answer, he bent down and kissed the cold little hand, when, as if awakened to life by an electric touch, she sprang quivering to her feet.

“ You — you dare ! ”

He gazed at her in amazement.

“ Nev-never speak to me again ! “What! ’tis not dead, then, — not dead yet! Heed it not, Catalina! Catalina, dearest, put it away from you! Mark me, tis child’s play; let it not follow us and blight us forever! We are man and woman now. ’Tis a man’s love I offer you.”

“ Go away — go — go ! ”

“ Listen. I was a fool to speak thus without warning. You shall have time to think. I will wait till you know your mind.”

“ No — no ! ” she protested violently. " I know it now— I know it well! ”

“ What then ” —

“ Go — go — go — go ! ”

“ You do not love me ? ”

Stepping swiftly forward, she caught the doorpost and steadied her swaying figure upon the threshold. There was a pause. It seemed a whole minute passed. Then constraining herself by a measureless effort, she answered, in a tone firm, unhesitating, almost defiant,— " No ! ”


Speed being an impossible factor in the begum’s traveling on account of her peculiar means of conveyance, the journey to New York and back in one day proved necessarily a tedious undertaking. Indeed, it was not until long after supper that she arrived home with her hamper of Indian goods.

Having been met and noisily welcomed by the younger children, and hearing from a trusted servant that all had gone well in her absence, she took no further thought of household matters, but gave herself up heart and soul to the delightful task of unpacking the rare fabrics and curious ornaments she had brought. Thus engrossed, it was not until she came upon something especially intended for Catalina that she noticed her absence. With the thought of giving her a pleasant surprise, she went directly to her daughter’s chamber, where she found the recluse curled up in the window-seat.

“ Alone! ” cried the mother, going gayly forward, holding the candle in one hand and waving the flashing bauble in the other.

With her face turned towards the darkened window, the daughter seemed not to hear.

“ Why are you in the dark ? " asked the begum, with a growing presentiment.

Still there was no answer.

“ Catalina, you are in pain ? ”

“ No.”

The hollow dreariness of tone startled the anxious mother. Quickly putting down the things in her hands, she flung herself on her knees by the window and clasped the speaker in her arms.

“My daughter, what is it ? ”

“ Nothing! ”

“ Catalina ! ”

“ Oh, do not speak to me ! Go —go, and leave me alone ! ”

She sprang to her feet, and almost shook herself free from her mother’s embrace.

Shocked by the despairing cry, the begum rose, and stood gazing at her daughter in bewilderment. Making no further offer of sympathy, however, after a moment’s thought she slowly withdrew, and, going down-stairs, walked up and down for an hour or two among the unheeded stuffs and trinkets. Later in the night, she stole with catlike tread to Catalina’s door and listened. Hearing within a soft footstep coming and going in an aimless, wearying march, she crouched upon the floor, and waited in suspense until with the breaking of day it ceased.

As soon as the household was astir, the cautious mother, questioning the servants, learned of the visit received in her absence. Involuntarily she heaved a sigh of relief. A part, at least, of the mystery was solved ; but directly, as if realizing that what remained had become more impenetrable than ever, she yielded to her former agitation. Instinctively she resorted to her embroidery frame, and after a long time spent there in taking false stitches, snarling her silks, and tossing about her head-gear, she suddenly arose with a look of resolution, ordered her palanquin, and betook herself to Vlacktebos to wait upon Vrouw Wickoff.

Cousin Lysbeth, summoned from cabbage-planting in a neighboring field, clumsily dissembled her annoyance at the visit, as she wiped her perspiring face on the under side of her apron, and passed an investigating hand over her cap and kerchief.

“ ‘T is a day without a fault,” began the visitor in an indefinite manner, as she settled herself in a proffered seat: “ it has no cruel wind to spoil the good sunshine ; it brings back thoughts of my own country. You care not much to go about, Vrouw Wickoff ; you love better, I think, to hug the chimney-nook.”

“ The chimney-nook gets little of my hugging,” answered the dame dryly, mindful, perhaps, of her sweating forehead.

“ Pardon ! ” Recalling herself from a moment’s preoccupation, tlie visitor recognized her mistake. “ Your affairs — I thought not of them — take you out. Yes, such a repute for thrift is not gained sitting in idleness.”

Vrouw Wickoff received the tardy tribute with an embarrassed little cough.

Work,” continued the begum in a strain that had no obvious pertinence to anything suggested by the visit, “ is called a blessing ; the worker forgets — how great a thing is it to forget! — and is happy. Work brings too the deep sleep that shuts us up every night in a tomb and brings us forth every morning, like the resurrection the dominie tells of.”

“ So ! ” murmured the puzzled huysvrouw, vainly trying to find some profitable application of this platitude to her neglected cabbages.

It helps to pass away the dull hours,” went on the begum, too intent upon her own purpose to heed her hostess’s perplexity ; “you forget the solitude, and you are not sad.”

“ Work is a good thing enough,” said the dame, sinking back in her chair with a timely sigh of fatigue, “ so there be not too much of it.”

“ But when ’t is over, and the night comes, and there’s nobody to fill the chair yonder, then think you not of your children, your kinsfolk, and wish for some of them here ? ”

“ I remember that I am an old woman, and count not upon their coming,” said Vrouw Wickoff sturdily, but not without a touch of bitterness.

“ There is one —your cousin, the junker that comes so often to visit you — seems not to mind you are not young.”

“ Who is that ? ”

“ Mynheer Van Cortlandt.”

“ He is like the rest,” answered the dame skeptically ; “ he comes to suit himself, with little thought of me.”

“ He has then something this way that draws him from the town ? ”

“ Who knows ? A junker must be doing something. ’T is to get a drink of my buttermilk or a day with the birds.”

“ I met him by chance yesterday on the highway, but he had not his gun.”

“ Then I know not his errand; some folly, no doubt, to waste his money on a dog or a colt. I concern myself not with his doings.”

“ So ! ” The visitor studied the speaker with a searching glance strikingly at variance with her indifferent tone. “ I am glad at least you have him with you.”

“ That have I not; he is but a bird on the wing, — here to-day and away to-morrow.”

“ He is gone ? ”

“ Long ago.”

“ He comes soon again ? ”

“ Not he ; ’t is a doubt if I see him before the wild geese fly.”

“ That is many months.”

“ These are troublous times yonder in their bickering little town.”

“ ’T is why he has grown so grave, perhaps.”

“ He is like me; he has much to do of late,” said the dame, with a significance not to be mistaken.

“Pardon! I keep you from work.” The begum instantly rose.

“ You make a short stay,” faltered her neighbor in feeble protest.

“ I must needs go,” subjecting her hostess’s face to a final scrutiny. " ’T will be a good year, they say, for the crops.”

“ That’s as it turns out,” commented Vrouw Wickoff, with professional reserve. " You will be going, then ? ”

“ Yes, they look for me yonder ; ’t is nearly noon. I hope soon for the honor of a visit from you.”

With a profound salam the visitor was gone, leaving the dame as bewildered as upon her former visit.

Returning home, the begum found Catalina upon the stoop in a state of unaccountable excitement. With the detective sensitiveness of a barometer, the mother knew directly that something had happened in her absence. Abstaining, however, from question or comment, she watched her daughter’s every movement with anxious interest. The repression of yesterday had given place to a feverish thirst for action.

“You are come? Where have you been ? I have wanted you! I have searched for you everywhere ! ”

“ I am here,” said the mother reassuringly.

“ ’T is well you are come, else I had gone without you.”

“ Gone ! ”

“ Yes ; I would go to town.”

“ So ! and why so far ? ”

“ Because — because—oh, I cannot tell why, but I must go, — I needs must go ! ” she concluded, with growing imperativeness, as if to forestall objection.

“ You shall go, my daughter,” was the calm reply.

“ Dear mother ! ”

Surprised, as it seemed, by this prompt acquiescence, the petitioner clasped her indulgent parent in a fervent embrace.

“ But when, — when ? How long must we wait ? ”

Not long.”

“ But how long? ”

“ We will go to-morrow.”

“ Father, — what will he say ? ”

“I will send him word to-day.”

“ I may go, then, and make ready my things ? ”

“ Yes.”

In her precipitation the overjoyed girl let fall upon the floor, as she hurried away, a folded paper. Immediately her watchful mother picked it up, and read without scruple the following letter from Hester : —

DEAREST CATALINA, — Here is grate news for you. I had thought of late to have ended my life a spinster but Providence has ordayned it otherwise. How I wish for you here that I might tell you face to face I am to be married ! Scarcely can I yet credit it myself so strangely it sounds in my ears. Barent it would seem has never given me up in his hart sence years ago in my blindnes I cast him off, — see what it is to have forbearance. He was my blissid father’s own choyce as you well know, thanks be to my Heavenly Lord and Master who has cured my wicked pryde and opened my eyes to his trew merrit. Now at last I see my duty and find my best content in doing it.

As you have been ever my faithful frend I hope to have your prayers and good wishes in this grate change.

Your obed’t and loving ser’t,


Although it does not appear that the begum had any well-defined theory as to her daughter’s purpose, it may be taken as in a measure significant of her expected stay in town that she set forth next morning with only a few changes of clothes and her inseparable Indian servant for escort. There were, to be sure, the bearers of the palanquin and the two slaves left to attend the doctor’s wants in town to eke out the household.

As they approached the shore in the rolling and tossing old ferry-boat, Catalina grew more and more agitated. She longed yet dreaded to arrive. Her excitement indeed reached such a painful pitch that when at last they stepped ashore in the dock she clutched her mother’s arm and dragged her at a breathless pace by the nearest way home, darting anxious, furtive looks down every intersecting street.

Doubtless Dr. Staats had long ago given up as futile all attempts to fathom his wife’s motives. If on this occasion he felt any surprise upon seeing her reappear with Catalina, he gave no sign of it. By thus neglecting to concern himself with the lesser politics of the household, the good doctor gained much valuable time for the larger pursuits which held him tied to the town while his family were in the country.

Arrived at her journey’s end, Catalina’s mood suddenly changed. Her look of eager hope gave place to one of blank helplessness, which in turn yielded to an expression, harrowing to her anxious mother, of dumb, weary, hopeless waiting.

The begum made bad work of her embroidery in those days; she snarled and knotted, and cut and raveled, without advancing an inch on her design.

At last, one morning, having found Catalina in her room pacing back and forth from window to window, while her untasted breakfast grew cold on the table, and noting with alarm a distinct shrinkage of the rounded oval of her face and a growing hollowness about the eyes, the excited mother, coming back to her embroidery, threw down the frame with a violent gesture, and then and there took the case into her own hands.

Having inquired of her husband with particularity the way to the Van Cortlandt manor, she dressed herself with unusual splendor, and, attended by the largest escort the household afforded, set forth upon an errand the nature of which she chose not to divulge.

Midway upon the road the lady’s attention was drawn by a distant sound. Looking up, she saw approaching an imposing equipage enveloped in a cloud of dust. As it came nearer she recognized the Van Cortlandt coach, drawn by four horses and escorted by outriders in mourning, the whole making a prodigious show and bustle as it rolled heavily along.

Ordering her bearers to climb a bank upon one side of the road, the begum made way for the ponderous vehicle to pass. Supported on sumptuous cushions, her dress glittering with jewels, the silk curtains of the palanquin draped effectively about her, she formed a striking picture on the lonely highway.

As the coach drew near, Madam Gertryd, accompanied by the widowed Lady Bellomont, was seen sitting within. To the profound and ingratiating obeisance of the begum the owner of the carriage returned a freezing nod, as she rolled slowly past. The dark cheeks of the Indian flushed at the studied discourtesy. She sat speechless with indignation, looking after the retreating carriage. After some minutes’ reflection, however, her face slowly cleared. The reason of the affront was plain. Dr. Staats had been one of the obnoxious auditing committee which had called the haughty Dutch matron to account, and pursued her with threats and legal process. The remembrance of this fact, if it did not induce her wholly to forgive the offender, plainly appeased in large measure the begum’s anger. Quietly giving the order to her servants, she turned about and followed back towards town in the wake of the lumbering chariot.

Traversing thus leisurely her homeward way, busied with the new turn given to her thoughts by the late incident, she came upon a small cottage by the roadside, from the door of which, as she passed, a familiar figure came forth and proceeded slowly down the garden path.

Calling upon her bearers to halt, the begum alighted and hastened after the little liuysvrouw, who, unconscious of being observed, continued her way to the bottom of the garden, where, pausing before a row of beehives set against the wall, she threw her apron over her head with a loud wail.

Suspecting her purpose, the visitor stopped, with a look of deep concern, and listened.

After a little the vrouw uncovered her head, and, knocking upon the hives one after another, cried in a voice choked with grief, —

“ Sh! sh ! my bees ! He is gone at hist! Have done with your buzzing! He is dead, I say! Never opens he his eyes again ! Never comes he to ye again! My Rip—he is dead — dead — dead ! ”

Familiar with this old custom, and shocked by the intelligence she had heard, the begum softly retreated, and stood by the stoop waiting for the mourner to return. Soon, however, unable to refrain from offering her sympathy, she approached again, saying, —

“ Tryntie, my good Tryntie, I hear you. My heart is sad for you. Weep ! weep! ’t will ease the load. But bethink you, too. ’t is best for him; ‘t is over at last, all his trouble; he sleeps, he is at rest, he has no more pangs ! ”

But, as if deaf to her words and unconscious of her presence, the little vrouw went on from hive to hive with her despairing lament.

“ Zoo ! He ’s gone — gone ! Ye ‘ll see him no more with his pipe on the stoop yonder ! Never ! He is dead, I say! Hush, little fools ! Would ye break his sleep ? Go sing round his grave when I have it planted with turf, and bid flowers grow there, and fetch me honey thence ! Will ye have done, noisy rogues, and let me think ? Dead —■ dead ! I ’ll not believe it! ’T was but this morning he opened his eyes and spoke to me ! ”

“ Tryntie ! ” called the begum.

“ Look ye, go not away from me, too, my bees, as my Rip is gone ! ”

“ Tryntie, I say, remember your children ! Remember they were Rip’s children, too ! ”

“ See ye not I am alone, pretty bees ? See ye not Rip is gone — gone — gone not to come again ? Look then ye leave me not, too ! ”

“ Tryntie, vrouw, hear but a word. You are not alone. You have friends. I will send them that will help you. Catalina will come. We will not forget you. Take comfort, I say.”

Finding her attempts at sympathy unheeded, the begum at last reluctantly withdrew. Arriving home, she did not forget her promise, but directly dispatched to the afflicted woman a store of necessaries, with a servant to help her prepare for the coming funeral.

Contrary to all her hopes and expectations, however, Catalina made no offer to go, nor took, as it seemed, more than a passing interest in the matter. Vainly the begum, in her dramatic manner, recounted every detail of her visit to the bouwerie; the listener only wearily interjected an occasional “ So ! ” or “ Poor Tryntie! ” at pauses in the narrative, and directly the story was over thought no more about it.

Meantime there came about a longexpected crisis in public affairs, which threw the whole province into a ferment of excitement. The timely arrival of Lord Cornbury, the new governor, changed in a moment the whole course of public policy. The Leislerians were thrust out of power, and, so far as possible, amends made for their mischievous and unlicensed doings. In the long list of these recited, it is only pertinent here to note that Colonel Bayard was saved from the scaffold, and that a stop was put to the persecution of Madam Van Cortlandt.

These acts of justice were consistently followed by the dismissal of Dr. Staats and his coadjutors from the council. Thus, it will be seen, the begum had divers grounds for personal concern in the crisis. So absorbing, indeed, was her interest in these public issues at the moment that she left Catalina to dream away the hours among the Copake rocks, and quite forgot the existence of the afflicted Tryntie.

Thus a fortnight slipped away, when, one day as she was setting forth upon some errand, in her palanquin, a funeral bell began to toll from the church tower in the fort. The doleful sound reminded her of Tryntie, and directly, with a touch of remorse for her long neglect, she gave orders to be taken to the bouwerie.

She found the bereaved widow upon the stoop, in warm discussion with a man whom, upon nearer approach, she recognized as the town sexton. Tryntie was criticising, with looks of indignation and dismay, a paper which he seemed to be reading.

Thus engrossed, she failed to notice the presence of her old mistress, who stood patiently awaiting the result of the discussion.

“ ’T is a true and honest account, and the money due, every stuyver of it,” said the sexton, as if in reply to a protest.

“ Huh! ” was the scornful rejoinder.

“ Hark ye! I will read it again.”

“ Oft reading makes it none the better.”

Three dry boards for the coffin, seven guilders ten stuyvers.”

“ Three! — three boards ! Heard ever any one before of so much timber to one coffin ? ”

“ Think of the size of him. He was a big man.”

“Mm-m! the very size of an angel,” assented the mollified vrouw, with a sudden choking, “that he was; there’s none like him left.”

“ Three quarters of a pound of nails, one guilder ten stuyvers,” pursued the sexton.

“ Where went all the nails ? Nigh upon a whole pound of nails to one coffin ! ’T is past belief ! ”

“ Making coffin, four and twenty guilders. Cartage, ten stuyvers.”

“ ‘T is robbery ! ”

“A half-vat and an anker of good beer, twenty-seven guilders,” pursued the imperturbable sexton.

“ There was never the half of it drunk in the house ! ”

“ One gallon of brandewyn, thirtytwo guilders.”

“ Lieve hemel ! ” shrieked the little vrouw. “ Where went it, then ? It came not here.”

“They drank it in his honor. ’Twas what he liked best, mark ye.”

“That did he, — that did he; nothing so much. Oh, Rip, if ye could but come back, man, ye ’d hear no more hard words about the brandewyn ! ”

“ Six gallons madeira for the women, eighty-four guilders.”

“ Zoo ! zoo ! They were thirsty that day! ”

“ ’Twas for grief, mind ye; nothing so much dries the throat.”

“ ’T is true.”

“And they mourn not every day one so close to the liking of all.”

“ Zoo ! One and all! ” with a fresh outburst of tears. “ Who could help but to love him ? ”

“ Sugar and spice, five guilders. One hundred and fifty sugar cakes, fifteen guilders. Tobacco and pipes, four guilders and ten stuyvers. Digging grave, thirty guilders,” continued the sexton in some precipitation, taking advantage of the listener’s emotion to hurry over several objectionable items.

“ Om God’s wil ! ” burst forth the little dame wrathfully, the tears still shining in her eyes. “Thirty guilders, — thirty, say ye, for one grave ? ”

“ Remember his size, will ye ? ”

“ T is out of all reason ! ”

“ He looked down upon the most of men.”

“ Mm-m ! that did he ; ’t is true.”

“Would ye have him stinted for room in his last bed ? ”

“ No — no — no-o-o ! ” sobbed the widow.

“ Or put in bent or twisted ? ” continued the crafty sexton.

“ Ye know I would not.”

“ Inviting to the funeral, twelve guilders. Marritje Lieverse, for assistance, six guilders. The whole, two hundred and forty-nine guilders. A true account, and small as can be made,” concluded the sexton, thinking to finish under cover of the vrouw’s sobs.

But the keen ears were on the alert.

“Two hundred, say ye, — two hundred and more ? T is beyond all sense and reason ! Two hundred and fifty guilders ! I have not the half of it in the world ! Not the half of it, I say, with the clothes on my back! Two hundred, ye say, and forty-nine guilders for burying one poor Christian ?

“ And a modest sum, too,” protested the sexton stoutly.

“God forgive the poor for being born, then, and spare us, good Lord, from death ! We cannot afford to die.”

“ I ’ll make the payment suit your convenience, vrouw.”

“ That will ye or get nothing ! Two hundred and forty-nine guilders ! I saw not so much money since buying the bouwerie yonder they have cheated me out of! ”

“ I ’ll be easy with ye, I say. Give me what ye have in hand.”

“ ’T is not much.”

“ ’T is a beginning, and I ’ll not let ye forget the rest.”

“ That will ye not. Go along with ye, and come hack to-morrow. Ye shall have what there is, but I ’ll not take the bread from the children’s mouths for ye ! ”

The satisfied look upon the sexton’s face, as he rode away on his gaunt black horse, was significant of confidence in his debtor.

The begum now announced her presence. Tryntie greeted her with warmest gratitude.

“ I heard what was not meant for my ears,” began the visitor apologetically.

“ That one ? He thought to rob me. He grows rich grinding the poor. He comes now, when my heart is heavy with grief for — for ” —

She broke out into loud sobs, and for several minutes wept unrestrainedly.

“Never heed him. He shall not plague you. I will help you to the money.”

“ No.”

“You may bring it back if you will.”

“ I shall not, — I shall not.”

“ ’Tis better to owe me than him.”

The vrouw still continued to shake her head violently.

“ But your children, — they must be cared for. What have you left for them ? ”

“These!” cried the plucky vrouw, holding up her bony, hard-worked little hands.

“ Poor Tryntie ! ”

“ They gained money once; there is strength left in them yet, so they rob me not again.”

“ Tryntie ! ” The begum’s face lighted up with a sudden thought.

“ Ei ? ”

“ Wait, good vrouw, — wait, my Tryntie. I may do something for you yet.”

“ So ? ”

But without waiting to explain herself further, the lady gave the order to her slaves, and rode hastily away.

Arriving home filled with her new project, she was surprised, upon entering the house, to hear the sound of voices in Catalina’s room.

Going thither in some anxiety, she pushed open the door, and beheld Hester, in the middle of the floor, cowering, with looks of amazement, before Catalina, who, with flaming eyes and withering emphasis, poured forth upon her a flood of denunciation.

“You — you—who are you to cast off him. a high-born junker with a noble heart, who has followed you with years and years of faithful service ? Your father, say you ! Who was your father? All the fathers ever born should not make me break my word ! Your father! What is he but a handful of dust! He has done harm enough. Let the grave hold him! I am tired of his name, and for you — go — go ! Get back to your blacksmith! He is good enough for you ! I want never — never — never to lay eyes on you again ! ”

Dumfounded and dismayed, Hester turned about, went down-stairs and out of the house. Unconsciously making way for her to pass, the begum said not a word, but stood rooted to the spot, with her eyes fixed in wonder upon her daughter, who, the next moment rushing forward, fell into her arms, crying in pitiable, despairing tones, —

“ Oh, my mother, help me ! ”


Scarcely had Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury arrived in New York to take upon him the government of the province under a commission from William III., when he was called upon to mourn the death of that able monarch, and proclaim the accession of his own royal kinswoman, Anne Stuart.

In fact, his Lordship was not only cousin-german to her new Majesty, but, as is well known, so closely resembled her in face and figure that he plumed himself much upon the likeness, and was led to favor it in unusual ways.

As has been hinted, the coming of the new governor was most opportune for the Van Cortlandts and their friends. It so chanced that Steenie, in behalf of his mother and in furtherance of certain family interests, had occasion to wait upon his Lordship soon after his arrival, when he was received with so much favor that he naturally formed a high opinion of his Excellency’s character and abilities.

On his part, the governor, in those early days while he was yet uncertain of his foothold, may have had reasons of his own for his kindly reception of a member of one of the most influential families in the province, a young man belonging to his own party, whose speech and air, moreover, were so marked by the settled gravity of middle age. It will be remembered that the begum had already remarked the junker’s growing seriousness of manner.

“ And what wonder he is become an old man ? ” cried Cornelis De Peyster, in consultation with Madam Van Cortlandt upon the subject. “ He turns the cold shoulder upon all his old fellows ; he ‘ll have nothing to do with any of us, these days. And see how he lives ! He is never seen at a rout, he has forgotten how to handle a gun, he sees no point to a joke, he must be ever at work.”

“ Yes,” put in madam with a motherly extenuation, he works too hard, — “t is that is the matter.”

“ ‘ Works ’! ” went on the irreverent Cornelis ; " but at what, pray you, madam? If ’t were in the way of ambition to make a figure in the world, all well and good. But ’t is nothing of the sort. ’T is poor cheap drudgery, and he works at it like a horse in a treadmill.”

Steenie, meantime, unconscious of his friend’s concern about him, kept on in his treadmill, until one morning he was brought to a standstill by a circumstance which would be quite too simple to mention if it had not resulted in his liberation.

This was nothing more nor less than a letter, — a curious letter, written in a graceful but illegible hand, which cost Steenie an hour’s close labor to decipher. Its contents were as follows : —

MYNHEER, — Suffer that I commend myself to you in all honor and respect, and pray that this may find you and your worshipful family in well-being !

I come to beseech your aid and favor in a matter of moment. It is, be assured, no business of my own, else had I not ventured to call upon you. It is to favor the humble petition of one in suffering. This is the matter : —

There is one Vrouw Van Dorn, well known to you. She lives now upon your estate. She is lately plunged in great grief by her husband’s death. It may not yet reach your ears that she is left in great want, that she has scarce food for her children, and nothing wherewithal to pay the heavy funeral charges of her husband that is dead.

For all this, and despite her great need, she will take no aid. ’T is a pride most strange in one of her condition. None the less is she fixed and stubborn in her resolution.

You know her history, and with what injustice she was treated by them lately in power. I have now a thought. It conies to me his new Excellency may look with more favor upon her suit. To this end it must be brought to his notice by one he is well inclined to. You know in what esteem my name is held by his Lordship, and for what cause. ’T is therefore I stand now like one with the hands tied.

In this strait I think of you. I pray you may be moved to lift your voice and to stir your hand in the matter. Forgive such boldness, and let me know freely your mind. If you refuse, ’t is well,—you will have reasons. If your heart is rather moved to give help, I pray you to wait upon me at your convenience, when I will make known to you all that is needful, and have the matter fairly set forth in a paper to lay before his Excellency.

Whatever he your choice, it will not change the thoughts I have of you. Do nothing to oblige me ! Obey only your own heart! I am done. I thank you for your pains in reading this letter. I pray you may have health and peace.

From your most respectful and obedient humble servant,

The signature was adorned with a flourish so involved and elaborate that the junker could make nothing of it, yet he had no trouble in guessing the writer.

The call came to him like a voice out of the past, at once appealing and peremptory. Moved not by any impulse of benevolence, not by any love of justice, not even by any prompting of friendship for Tryntie, he obeyed, — obeyed as if in recognition of an obligation, but so mechanically that he went about the task required of him with the look and manner of a sleep-walker.

The begum received him with a gravity equal to his own. Perhaps because of her own profound preoccupation she seemed to find nothing unusual in his bearing.

“ ‘T is good to see you again, Mynheer, — we grow strangers of late. I was sure of your coming ; I knew well ‘t would touch your heart, — this noble charity. Sit, pray, and let us talk.”

The visitor’s eyes glanced furtively about the familiar room as he took the offered seat.

“ Did I say ‘ charity ’ ? I take back the word ; ’t is rather justice. But you know it all, Mynheer, this story ? ”

Steenie bowed, with his sleep-walking look.

“ It needs not, then, that I explain, but rather tell me your mind, Mynheer. Think you his Excellency will listen to our suit with favor ? ”

“ Pardon ! ”

The lady saw instantly that she had been talking to deaf ears. Oddly enough, something very like a gleam of gratification at the discourtesy showed for a moment in her face, but directly gave way to her former zealous look as she repeated with gentle emphasis, —

“ Will his Lordship, think you, be inclined to see justice done the poor woman ? ”

“ ‘T is like — I hope so — er — there is good ground to expect it.”

“ Lies it in his Lordship’s power to amend the wrong ? ”

“‘Wrong’!” repeated the junker, again at sea.

“ May he of his own will give order that the money be paid back, or is it a matter for the council ? Pity my ignorance ! ”

“ The council, — humph ! ’T is rather a question for the assembly! ”

“ Then the governor can do nothing in the matter?”

“ Anything, everything; they will heed his slightest beck till the honeymoon is over,” answered Steenie, with a touch of irony, as he straightened himself in his chair and gave his mind at last to the subject.

“ And you, Mynheer, —will you then take the great trouble to lay the matter before his Excellency? ”

“ Most willingly ; ‘t is for that I " —

The sound of voices and steps outside in the passage caused him to stop. He listened a moment; then rose, with a troubled look.

“ Are you in haste, Mynheer ? ”

“ I have — er — pressing matters needing my attention.”

“ Let me not hold you. I — but since you have business — I am most bounden for your pains. Will it suit your convenience to move soon in the matter, Mynheer ? ”

“ To-morrow or the day following, at his Lordship’s leisure I will wait upon him.”

“ ’T is sooner than I had hoped. Let us pray you may persuade him ; and if you do, oh, Mynheer ” —

“ Pardon ? ”

“ What a joy for the poor woman ! ”

“ I will do my best.”

“ ‘T were a pity — that ” —

“ Eh ? ”

— “ she should not know it without loss of time.”

“ So ! ”

Blind to the subtle insinuation of this suggestion, the junker stood obtusely staring.

“ A thought comes to my mind ” — The lady struggled with a momentary embarrassment.

“ What thought ? ”

“ How much greater pleasure if she could hear it from your own lips ! ”

“ You would have me tell her ? ”

“ ‘T is on your homeward way.”

“ So ’t is. Yes, I will do it. I will stop at the door. What more, then, is there ?”

“Nothing, ‘t is all. Take my thanks, a thousand thanks, Mynheer, for this great aid. ’T is raising a poor creature from the dust. My heart goes with you on this business. I think of nothing till the good news comes.”

Since Rip’s death, the begum, for reasons not hard to understand, had talked much at home of Tryntie’s bereavement and of the sad state of things at the bouwerie. It was with no surprise, then, that Catalina heard the hackneyed subject brought up again, one morning, at table. As usual, of late, she gave little heed to what was said beyond a general recognition of the topic. It was otherwise when, an hour later, her mother came suddenly upon her, cloaked and hooded, in the passage, as she was about stealing forth to her old haunt upon the rocks.

“ So, Catalina ? ’T is well I saw you. You are going out, you may do me a service. Here are some things I had made ready for Tryntie ” —

“ But I— ’t was not that way I had in mind to go.”

“ What matters to you one way or another? And she, poor woman, is in sore need. I have neglected her these last days.”

“ Kouba will do as well.”

“ No ; she takes it to heart you go not to see her.”

“ ’T is a great distance.”

“ Take your time. What need for haste ? You may eat your dinner at the bouwerie.”

Catalina hesitated, reflected ; perhaps the long-stifled voice of conscience seconded the motion. The begum saw her advantage, and failed not to pursue it.

“Tell her—say to poor Tryntie to take heart. There is good news in store for her, — mark you what I say, my daughter ? ”

“ I hear you.”

“ Say that one has undertaken the matter who has great weight with the new governor.”

“ One who has weight with the governor,” repeated Catalina absently.

“ He will go himself to plead her cause, and something must come of it.”

“ I will tell her.”

“ His Excellency cannot refuse to hearken to Mynheer Van Cortlandt.”

The listener started, and turned in great agitation, as if to withdraw from the errand.

“ Here are the things for Tryntie,” went on the watchful begum. “ You had best set forth at once ; ’t is a good stretch. You may take your time coming back. I will send Kouba with your horse. Look you wait there till he comes.”

The same morning, mindful of his promise, Steenie presented himself at the governor’s house. There having made known his wish for an interview, he was shown into the audience room and left, with the announcement that his Lordship was engaged at his toilet, but would presently appear.

Busied with his own thoughts, he scarcely heeded what the man said. He sat down, and for a long time waited patiently. Gradually it began to dawn upon him that he was being neglected. Perhaps he had been forgotten ! The thought made him uneasy. He stalked up and down the floor, he looked out at the windows, he moved about the furniture, to no purpose. At last, when his patience was quite exhausted and he was about leaving the house in dudgeon, there was heard a movement in the anteroom,— the sound of footsteps and the rustle of garments. Remembering his errand, he controlled his irritation, and composed his face and manner to outward deference.

Directly the door was thrown open with a flourish, and two servants in livery appeared backing slowly into the room. There followed a moment of strained expectancy, not void of effect upon the junker. Then an imposing figure filled the doorway. Steenie rose from his chair. A large woman, with an assumption of great state, came forward and seated herself upon a dais at the upper end of the room. She was followed by a train-bearer and several attendants, who solemnly ranged themselves behind her chair.

Steenie noted in some amazement the person and dress of this majestic gentlewoman. She seemed not remarkable for either grace or beauty, being of unusual stature, with a clumsy figure, a heavy face, big staring eyes, and a double chin.

Her dress, however, was ordered with an approach to magnificence. She wore a velvet robe, opened in front to show a bare neck, and a stomacher wrought in seed pearls, while at the waist the heavy folds of her gown were gathered into a girdle set in precious stones. Perched grotesquely upon her large wig shone a tiny head-gear in the form of a tiara.

Adjusting her draperies somewhat awkwardly, the lady directed her eyes with a look of extreme complacency upon Steenie, as if awaiting some explanation of his presence.

“ May it please you, madam, I am come to see his Excellency Lord Cornbury.”

“ Mynheer Van Cortlandt is a frequent visitor at our court,” answered the lady, in a powerful baritone voice which made Steenie start and lose countenance.

The speaker’s complacent look broadened into a smile at the junker’s discomfiture, and she exchanged meaning glances with her attendants.

“ Madam,” continued Steenie with dignity, “ I am not come this time in my own behalf, but in the interest of one who suffered great injustice at the hands of those lately in power. I am persuaded that if I can but get speech with his Excellency, and make known to him the merits of the case, he will take it into consideration.”

“Go on and tell your tale, Mynheer,” said the lady in a condescending tone, as she adjusted a bracelet.

“ Pardon, your ladyship, I would lay the matter before his Excellency in person.”

Turning with a frown to repress a sudden tittering among her attendants, the lady repeated, —

“ Go on, I say ! If there he anything in the matter, it shall come to his ears, never fear ! ”

Impressed by the speaker’s air of authority, Steenie judged it better not to prejudice his case by further hesitation, and so proceeded to tell Tryntie’s story in the fewest possible words, darting an occasional glance of indignation at the giggling attendants, whom no awe of their mistress seemed to keep in check.

“ These, then, are the facts, your ladyship,” said Steenie in conclusion. “It is, as you will see, a plain case of robbery. If you have any influence with his Excellency ” —

“ Be assured I have, the very greatest,” interrupted the lady, cooling her florid face with a large feather fan. “ Indeed, I may say he is always ruled by me in such cases ; but I am free to confess,” she went on, with an air of irritation, “ that I can give you no great hope in this matter. His Excellency is tired of these complaints ; he hears of nothing else from morning till night. He is sorry for these people, he feels great pity for them, but there is a limit to his power, there is a limit to the funds in the treasury. ‘T is the people’s money you ask for ; his Excellency has no power over it, and there are needs more crying in other directions.”

Somewhat taken aback by this emphatic rebuff, Steenie stood casting about in his mind for some pretext by which he could get speech with his Excellency in person, when the door opened, and the lackey appeared ushering in another petitioner.

Directly the lady’s face lighted up ; she stretched forth her hand with a gracious smile.

The new-comer advanced. It was Cornelis De Peyster. Hardly had the two friends exchanged looks of recognition, when, to Steenie’s amazement, Cornelis stalked up to the dais, knelt upon one knee, and kissing the lady’s fat hand said in an undertone, which yet was audible in every part of the room, —

“ I hope I find your Majesty in better health this morning.”

“ Hush ! ” said the lady, tapping his lips with her fan ; “ those are dangerous words, Mynheer, if maliciously reported.”

“ ‘T is impossible to help it, your Maj— er — I would say — never was anything so like, I swear — ’t is stronger this morning than ever,” glancing back and forth from the lady’s face to a large portrait of Queen Anne hanging above her on the wall. “ The look, the attitude, — everything is complete ; ’t is as if your Maj— er — had walked bodily down out of the frame.”

“You would flatter me.”

“ Not I.”

“ There may be a look, a passing likeness, I grant you, — it has indeed been remarked ; but nothing so strong as you would have it,” rejoined the lady, in a tone which invited contradiction.

“ Two peas are not more like, I swear; ’t is past all belief. But I intrude upon some graver business,” looking around upon Steenie.

“ No, Mynheer De Peyster is always welcome,” said the lady reassuringly; adding directly, with marked emphasis, “I wish I might say as much for others of his family whom ” —

“ Ah, poor Abraham ! Forgive him. He was led astray by those Leislerians,” interposed Cornelis hastily in defense of his brother, lately dismissed from the council.

The lady replied only with a skeptical look, and abruptly changed the subject.

“ If I mistake not, Mynheer, I read a petitioning look in your eyes this morning.”

“ Well read, your Majesty.”

“ Have done with that before harm comes of it,” said the lady, with a passing frown.

“ You must tie my tongue first.”

“ What is your petition ? ”

“ To remind your ” —

“ Hush. I say.”

— “ of a certain promise.”

“ What is that ? ”

“ You cannot forget. I shall not let you forget. What a pity I have not the artist here this morning, all is so perfect ! ”

A flush of extreme gratification overspread the lady’s broad face. She was just gathering herself to answer, when the bell in the church close by began to ring with such a deafening clamor that for some minutes nothing else could be heard.

“ Mark that,” said the lady, rising ; " ‘tis striking twelve. You shall stay and dine with us, and we will talk further of this matter of a portrait. Meantime, as Colonel Heathcote is waiting with some business of the council, I must leave you for the moment. Come to me presently in my closet.”

So saying, and graciously including the dumfounded Steenie in her farewell nod, the lady and her attendants disappeared from the room.

Left together, the two junkers gazed at each other for a moment in silence.

“ Who — what means all this ? ” asked Steenie, with a look of hopeless perplexity.

“ You do not know? ”

“ ’T is Lady Cornbury, that ? ”

“ ‘ Lady Cornbury ’! ” repeated Cornelis, laughing in his friend’s face. “Are you blind or a dunce, Steen ? ”

“ Who, then ? ”

“ Sh-h ! " whispered Cornelis, discreetly lowering his voice. “Can you not see ? ”

“ Eh ? ”

“ ‘T is his Excellency himself.”

“ Lord Cornbury? ”

“ The same.”

“ In petticoats ? ”

“ To favor the likeness, see you ? Oh, t is well known, this weakness of his Lordship. Look now what comes of living out of the world. I ‘m in high favor because I humor the whim, and with no violence to my conscience, either. Did you note the resemblance? Come here,” dragging Steenie before the portrait. “ See you there, now ? They are like as twins.”

Steenie stood gazing in silence, quite unable to believe the evidence of his own senses.

“ What, then, are you doing here, since you knew not ‘t was his Excellency?” asked Cornelis.

“ I came with a petition, and demanded to see his Lordship.”

“ And it was granted, — your suit ? ” “ No.”

“ So ! Cornelis laughed satirically, and added presently, in a good-humored tone, " Come, come, Steen, your wits are gone wool-gathering. It needed no prophet to say you would fail if you stood by staring, and never made the mistake of supposing that you were speaking with her Majesty in person. What is your business ? Tell it to me. If it be anything short of restoring brother Abraham to the council, I may bring it about for you.”

“ Do, do. Try, at least, dear Corny. ‘T is a case crying for relief. See, here in this paper are the facts. You may have the little woman up herself to be questioned, and as many witnesses as you want.”

“ So ! It sounds well,” said Cornelis, glancing over the paper as he talked. “ It seems just and right. ‘T is no great matter, either. Good ! ” he concluded, folding the paper and putting it in his pocket. “ I am called to his closet, as you heard, and am kept to dinner. I will bring it before him, and ’t will be granted, too, or I’m no courtier.”

“ Thanks, thanks, Corny. ’T is like you. And you will bring me word ? ”

“ The moment I am let free, never fear. Sh ! ”

A lackey appeared to summon Cornelis to his Excellency, and thereupon Steenie took leave.

Several hours later, true to his promise, Cornelis came to Steenie’s door with the welcome news that his Excellency had pledged his word Tryntie’s loss should be made good if, upon inquiry, the case proved as deserving as represented. Thereto he summoned the dame to an examination next morning.

Thanking Cornelis cordially for his timely aid, Steenie set forth on his long ride home by way of the Sapokanican road.

The sun was fast sinking behind the distant palisades ; his level rays, entangled in the roadside shrubbery, hung like a golden fleece from the thickleaved branches. His quickening influence withdrawn, nature called a halt. The glare and tumult of the day were gone. Night came on apace. The air resounded with the evening song of all created things, a rest-inspiring chorus. Lambs bleated for entrance to the fold ; cattle lowed for the loitering cow-boy; birds twittered drowsily as they sank to rest; the gossiping poultry clucked their good-night greetings as they sought vantage points in the apple-trees; tree-toads in their viewless haunts and frogs from the distant marsh heralded with joyous clamor the night’s approach. It was nature’s crooning-time, and Steenie listened unconsciously to the lullaby as he strode along busied with deeper matters, soothed in his own despite.

Arriving at Tryntie’s bouwerie, he dismounted at the gate, and, leaving his horse with a servant on the highway, sauntered up the grass-grown path.

Door and windows stood open, but nobody appeared. Steenie looked around with the critical eye of a landlord. The stoop was well swept; the yard was tidy. Upon a bench beside the door there lay some unfinished knitting ; a busy kitten rolled about the ball of yarn upon the floor.

With the freedom of a neighbor, the visitor walked into the house. The supper-table was spread in the small livingroom, the kettle was singing over the open fire, but the huysvrouw was nowhere to be seen. The junker called out once or twice to announce his presence. There was no answer. He searched the bedroom, peeped into the pantry, and bawled down the cellar stairs, and came at last to the back door. Clearly Tryntie had gone neighboring.

Pausing a moment, as if in doubt what to do, Steenie turned back towards the front of the house. As he passed through the living-room he heard a voice. He stopped. It was somebody on the stoop talking to the kitten. Tryntie had been milking and come in from the barn. He strode forward and presented himself at the door.

Dropping kitten and knitting, the new-comer sprang to her feet in dismay. Steenie’s face fell. The joyous expectation faded from his eyes. He stood a moment with a troubled look; then, gravely stepping forth, said in tones carefully guarded, —

“ I was looking for Tryntie. Say to her, please, that I will come again tomorrow.”

He turned and walked towards the highway. A despairing cry rang in his ears. He stopped.

“ Mynheer — Mynheer ! ”

The words sounded like a wail. He hurried back, and lifted the prostrate figure from the bench. Slipping from his hold, she sank to her knees, with face buried in her hands.

“Forgive — oh, forgive me, Mynheer ! ”

“ Catalina ! ”

“ I did not know ” —

“ What say you ? ”

“ I thought — I thought you bound to her.”

“ To Hester ? ”

“ Yes.”

“ But,” he cried, tenderly gathering the little figure once more in his arms, and striving to look into the telltale face, — “ but you told me ” —

“ A wicked lie ! ” she gasped, hiding her burning blushes upon his shoulder.

Edwin Lassetter Bynner.